Members of the military often do not return home in the same condition in which they left. While few people join the military for veterans' benefits, they do expect to receive the benefits they were promised. Unfortunately, the news has been filled with stories of how the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has been failing veterans in Pennsylvania and across the country. Recently, it has been revealed that thousands of veterans have wrongfully been declared deceased, resulting in a stop to their benefits.
It was recently revealed that over 4,000 veterans lost their benefits due to wrongful death declarations that occurred over the course of approximately four years. The majority of these errors occurred in 2015. Representatives for the VA claim they are unsure exactly why these errors are happening, explaining that they receive data regarding deaths for the Social Security Administration. It is unclear if the wrongful death declarations occur because of inaccurate data or human error.
A letter written to a U.S. congressman seems to confirm that these declarations are not the matter of a routine mistake in paperwork but rather the result of a systematic failure. Representatives for the VA say that they will take additional measures to confirm a death before discontinuing benefits in the future. These measures include sending a letter to the veteran's estate seeking confirmation.
The VA contends that veterans' benefits that were impacted due to wrongful death declarations happen only to a small percentage of military veterans. However, one man claims that he was only able to have his benefits restored and see a refund for money withdrawn from his account after a congressman became involved with his case. Fortunately, there are options for assistance for those in Pennsylvania struggling to ensure they are awarded the benefits to which they are entitled. These options include seeking the guidance of an attorney with experience regarding such cases.
Source: tampabay.com, "Jolly: VA mistakenly declared 4,201 dead in past 5 years", Christopher O'Donnell, May 25, 2016